By Adam Robinson
Gotten over the hurdles of asking how everyone’s New Years and Christmas have been? Still wanting to put off work and not get quite into the uni slog just yet? Look no further.
If, like me, you binged watched the new season of Black Mirror and was both shocked, appalled and disgusted but thoroughly entertained, then you may notice the significance of this Smiths song. I was relatively a late admirer of Morrissey. I did warm to him eventually. At some point, I don’t know when exactly, the daffodils, NHS hearing aid, the melancholic voice and lyrics just suddenly appealed to me. Perhaps its Stockholm syndrome even though I think he’s the most ridiculous dancer I’ve ever seen. An ex of mine would always play him on repeat; but Charlie Brookers use of this song at THAT particular moment in the episode ‘Hang The DJ’ (you know which bit I’m talking about *nudge, nudge, wink, wink*) was so uplifting; it just had to be in this week’s mixtape.
Let’s now go to some old school stuff. Released in 2000 this song was simply recorded with toy instruments and a good old guitar riff. Its pop punk appeal is especially useful if you’re coming down off of being with your parents for an entire month during the holidays and want to relive your teenage rebellion years all over again. In the face of adversity Matt Mahaffey is just trying “to understand it, I guess I’d have to be a dead man trying not to laugh out loud”. Luckily this was recorded before the onslaught of “XD”, “lolz” and “rofls” that would scourge the endless MSN chatrooms that would pop up. This song would sound very different if he ended each chorus with “LOL” now wouldn’t it?
I am living for this current alternative rap renaissance we are experiencing at the moment. Keeping with the theme of dead men we now move onto another musician heavily influenced by rock but is an up and coming multitalented artist who is rewriting black masculinity and music. His videos are usually simple but full of colourful creative props and a cheeky playfulness with the camera, especially from Duckwrth himself. Any of his videos are worth a watch. He’s also done a cute interview with the Art & Raps series which you can watch here.
Pop2 was the mixtape we needed to hear off of Charli. Coming in like a maelstrom of glitch-pop, witch house, cosmic soul and hyperealistic futurism it’s a benchmark project for her and her producers. Label disputes have delayed her album to the point of which she has mentioned in numerous interviews that she has a backlog of songs just waiting to be released. If they sound like Porsche, then they need to keep coming. It fits in perfectly with other songs about the daily hustle like Beyoncé’s 6 Inch, Lana Del Rey’s National Anthem, Pink Floyd’s Money, M.I.A’s Paper Planes and Lady Gaga’s entire discography in its blatant materialism. They’re all empowering songs without coming across as greedy or too excessive, especially potent in an age where we have to have a job in order to live (shout-out to other third/fourth undergrads who are slowly realising this). So rather than getting depressed at the giant money-death-machine we make do and grind the hours away. Listen to the rest of the mixtape if you get a chance. My reaction to this song was pretty similar to the hilarious YouTube music reviewer Ajayll’s.
The supernatural enchantress herself, Liz Harris a.k.a Grouper, is the master of atmosphere and textures. She’s been prolifically producing albums and songs since 2005 of astounding original sounds. This one off of her album A I A: Alien Observer released way back when in 2007 is her at her most ethereal; at the 5:30 mark you can hear her distant voice under the echoing noises and it is the apex of the song in my opinion. She is also an accomplished visual artist and you can see the same patterns in her paintings as you can in her music here. The music video attached is also just as otherworldly.
I could write an essay about this album it’s that conceptual and well crafted. It is a little sad to know that this is her most financially successful album to date because of its pop-like sound but it’s easy to miss that it is a parody of pop itself. Each song is so well produced and its due to the magic of Jack Antonoff, known as Bleachers on his solo project, who recently produced Lorde’s life affirming Melodrama and Taylor Swift’s emo-goes-vogue Reputation. Pills is one of those songs which you need to listen to a couple of times to fully get it but it’s worth it trust me. Keener listeners will note that the backing vocals are not St. Vincent but actually Cara Delevigne.
Simple and complex. The layers of weirdness and rhythm are hypnotic enough that when you see the whale on the music video you’ll feel like your swimming with it as your M.I.N.D gets slowly warped.